Maybe I’m an everyday voyeur, because I sure do enjoy seeing pics of people go about their business on Instagram (here’s me).
It’s interesting! Even the boring stuff, because it’s happening all over the world. Breakfast in Hong Kong, lunch in Toronto, drinks in New York. Every day I get to visit with people’s pets, accompany them on vacation, and indulge in cheat meals (without the calories, whee!).
I also get a kick out of seeing so many self-portraits, or selfies. Makes me feel like I’m right then and there.
As someone who’s taken her share of blurry selfies, I can tell you that a sharp, cool self-portrait isn’t always as easy as point and click, especially in bad lighting. You’d think it would be pretty simple, right? Just smile, point and click.
In a moving car with a camera phone? Uh, not exactly.
But we have tips! Here are some things you can do to take a fantastic selfie.
Double-check your hair and makeup
Before you actually take your selfie, hold your camera right out in front of your face, straight on, and snap a quick test shot of your hair and makeup.
I do this all the time, not just for selfies, but whenever I finish my makeup. Even better than a mirror, seeing a picture helps me tell if my brows, liner, blush and eyeshadow are even. A test shot can help you target areas that need fixing.
While you’re at it, glance at your clothes to make sure your bra straps aren’t peeking out or your collar’s wonky.
Choose a clear background
I remember reading an Us Weekly article at the salon a while back (my guilty pleasure!) about Tori Spelling’s husband posting a pic on Twitter with Tori’s naked breast in the background.
Not that you’re going to have boobs hanging out behind you in your selfie, but there’s a lesson here. Always check your background before you post pics.
Look for solid colors, like walls, to stand in front of, and de-clutter. Move laundry baskets and messy piles of books — anything you don’t want the world to see. For serious! I can’t tell you how many cute selfies I’ve seen with bras hanging in the background.
I try to find a nearby wall or textured curtains. Generally, the less cluttered your background, the better.
Don’t move a muscle
Do your iPhone pics always look blurry? It’s usually caused by camera shake, which happens when you tap the shutter button while the phone is moving. Even the slightest shake or wiggle can produce a blurry pic, especially in dim light.
Hold your phone as steady as possible. Here’s a trick I borrowed from sharp shooters…
Right before I press the shutter, I take a breathe, exhale and hold for a couple seconds. Very still. Then I tap the button.
Find your light
Lighting is everything! It can make all the difference in your selfies.
Try taking your pic facing a window — the bigger the better — but out of direct sunlight. Avoid standing with your back to the window or another light source, as that can cause something called backlighting, where you look like you’re silhouetted in the shadows while the background is super bright. Direct sunlight, especially around midday, is powerful and harsh, and can exaggerate any blemishes or skin imperfections.
What you want is diffused lighting, which is super flattering. If you can, find a room with multiple windows on different walls.
Or just head for your car.
Have you ever noticed how some of the best selfies are taken in cars? It’s because of the nice, diffused lighting from all the windows.
Take a ton of shots!
No, seriously. I usually take anywhere from 10-20 shots, sometimes 30, to get the one I want. In each one, I’ll strike a different pose, part my hair differently or do a different expression.
Most of the pics turn out pretty crappy…but out of every 20 or so, I’ll get one, two or three I really like.
Shoot from above!
I can’t remember where I heard this tip, but generally, it’s more flattering to shoot with your camera held slightly above your eye level or higher, so that you’re looking up into the lens.
Sometimes when you shoot from below, it can make you look like you have extra chins.
Strike a pose
Aaaaand this is where you get rewarded for watching all of those America’s Next Top Model marathons.
First things first: work your angles. Holding the phone at 12 o’clock directly in front of you can make your body look static and boxy. Position your head at different angles, and turn your body slightly to the left or right. It looks more dynamic and can make you look thinner.
Also, if you’re concerned about dark circles, try slightly tilting your chin upward, which makes those circles look softer.
Now, elongate your neck. You know how Miss J is always telling the models not to lose their necks? That’s the idea. The trick is doing it without looking strained.
If you’re feeling playful, bust out a fan and work your hair! That’s a good way to get some really fun pics.
Run it through a filter
That’s one of the coolest things about Instagram. The filters! Lots of them soften fine lines and imperfections. I like the ones that also brighten. My favorites are Valencia and Rise.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,
P.S. And then there’s that scourge of photography lovers everywhere, the DMV! For help with that ever-important picture ID you have to show people all the time, check out my latest Gloss Daily post, How to Take a Good Driver’s License Picture.
P.P.S. Have you ever had a really fantastic DMV picture that made you swell with pride?